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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Matter of Opinion

Docs vs. Drug Company Reps

We had a group in today representing the Washington State Medical Association and the Spokane County Medical Association.
They told us about the bills they are lobbying for in the state Legislature.

One of the more interesting causes is their hope that pharmaceutical company reps won't be able to use for marketing and sales purposes the information about what medications the doctors prescribe.

Here's how the system works now:
The pharmacies sell to "data miners" the information about what medications docs are prescribing. Patients names are not included in the information, just the amount and types of drugs. The data miners then sell the information to the drug companies and then the sales reps go back to the docs and ask them questions about their prescribing patterns.

"The fact they can find out exactly what you are prescribing is just dirty pool," said WSMA President Brian Wicks.

We asked why they don't just refuse to talk with "pharma" reps. Well, basically, they like the samples. And some of the perks, too, such as free meals, though they are clamping down on that practice.

They complained that at the office level, reps are coming in, saying I bought you lunch, why didn't you prescribe my meds?

The proposed bills are SB 6241 and HB 2664. They would prohibit "the sale and use of prescriber-identifiable prescription data for marketing or promotional purposes."

Sympathy with the docs or the drug reps trying to do their jobs? Blog line are open.

A Matter of Opinion is really a matter of three opinions – those held by the people responsible for the opinion pages of The Spokesman-Review. Check in regularly to find out what they’re up to, what they think and where they differ and to joust with them if you want.